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Global stocks were set to retreat on Tuesday morning over concerns about China's appetite for commodities.

U.S. index futures were down with about 90 minutes before markets open, suggesting that stocks will fall at the start of trading. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average were down 67 points or 0.5 per cent. Futures for the broader S&P 500 were down 8 points or 0.6 per cent.

In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was down 1.1 per cent and Germany's DAX index was down 1.4 per cent.

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The setbacks come as investors fret over comments made by the head of BHP Billiton Ltd.'s iron ore division, who said that China's demand for the commodity was declining, feeding into broader concerns that China's demand for other commodities might be on the decline as its economy cools.

Commodity prices were generally down. Crude oil fell to $107.37 (U.S.) a barrel, down 0.7 per cent. Gold fell to $1,650 an ounce, down 1 per cent.

The setbacks come, though, as many observers warn about the consequences of high commodity prices. The International Air Transport Association said that the global aviation industry faces losses of $5-billion this year due to high fuel costs.

In U.S. economic news, the focus is going to be on housing. At 8:30 a.m. (ET), economists will get a look at February's housing starts and building permits.

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